With 31 physical stores, Fabletics has officially outgrown its online-only status. Like many of its digitally-native peers, the athletic brand continues to put down roots in select city centers and high-traffic areas to raise its profile and promote its products. But with four walls comes the challenge of seamlessly replicating the brand promise for customers who may run into stores, hop online or jump from one to the other.
Stretching into brick-and-mortar retail without relinquishing its e-commerce might meant rethinking everything about traditional in-store experience from the sales floor to the back office. The brand, which is owned by TechStyle Fashion Group and fronted by Kate Hudson, has opted for a proprietary fix.
OmniSuite, the retail management engine driving both its growing store fleet and online business, handles Fabletics’ e-commerce, POS and order management system. “The platform and its applications allow us to deliver personalized service with a 360-degree view of customers’ transactions and interactions with the company across all channels,” said Ron Harries, vice president and head of retail at TechStyle.
He described OmniSuite’s shopping cart solution, OmniShop, as “agnostic to device, channel or environment.” In other words, the system allows Fabletics to track sales conversion from the physical fitting room to the online cart, and carry users’ preferences and data across channels too. That equates to helping shoppers find their favorite style in-store, but it also means that as customers browse the merchandise, Fabletics can analyze shopping behavior and apply the feedback to the brand’s overall operations, a process the company calls “brick-mining.”
Brick-mining pays huge returns in customer satisfaction as well as conversions, said Harries. “We can attribute online sales to relationships initiated in retail, giving us a more comprehensive view of a store’s performance beyond the confines of four walls,” said Harries. “That’s something unprecedented in retail.”
According to Harries, OmniSuite acts as a backbone for the customer-facing technologies. Like many other digitally-native brands, Fabletics features mobile tech prominently on the sales floor. Some are standard for emerging brands, like the handheld POS systems enabling guests to check out anywhere in the store. Others are specific to the brand. When shoppers enter a Fabletics store, they’re checked in under their existing member profile or as a guest. This helps Fabletics gain insight into shoppers’ behavior, but also makes the shopping experience more personal. “For example, if they try something on but aren’t sure about it and want to wait to buy, the item is left in their online shopping cart with their feedback – such as “fits great! Not sure about the color,” said Harries. The company then sends cart reminders or may market other variations on the same style directly to them.
The dressing rooms also get the digital-first treatment. Digital screens on dressing room doors flash the guest’s name to assign space, along with personalized messages like birthday greetings and promotional offers. Inside the dressing rooms, a larger screen displays member-generated content and styling suggestions based on the items a customer is trying on, and an assist button allows users to call over an associate if needed.
At select stores, Fabletics uses heat maps around product displays to gauge interest in various combinations. Based on the traffic the displays generate, the company can adjust merchandising. These technologies also allow Fabletics to track inventory movement and activity down to the SKU, sizes, colors and individual items.
Harries said that leveraging this data is hugely important from a supply and product development side. Data might reveal a specific factory that is creating issues such as poor coloring or sizing, or a design that looks great on the rack but not on the body. “This has allowed the brand to notice immediately when a product could be defective or improperly designed,” Harries said. “The brand can quickly pull it off shelves and offline to ensure no customer has a bad experience.”
According to Harries, Fabletics retail locations have driven a 200 percent sales lift overall (online and offline combined) within a 30-mile radius of the store. He also said that the lifetime value of omni-members is more than two-and-a-half times better since implementing physical retail. The company plans to open 13 more stores in 2019, and at least 100 nationwide. And more tech features should come with those new spaces, said Harries. “Our physical stores give us an opportunity to better understand our customers and in turn, better serve them,” Harries said. To stand out in the digital lurch, he added, making customers feel understood is priority number one.
Read more about the ways in which direct-to-consumer brands are changing every facet of the industry—and the pace at which they’re doing so, download Sourcing Journal’s Direct-to-Consumer Takeover report here. The report is sponsored by The Studio, Shima Seiki, Texworld, and AIMS360.